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Hey big spender: Alun Cairns’ General Election campaign most expensive in Wales

19 Oct 2020 3 minute read
Alun Cairns. Picture by Cabinet Office (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Alun Cairns spent more money than any other candidate in Wales at last year’s UK general election, an analysis of Electoral Commission data by Nation.Cymru has found.

Cairns spent £15,179 on his successful bid to retain the Vale of Glamorgan seat – £1,330 more than the second-highest spender and £2,056 more than 2017 when he was the 10th highest spender.

It’s only slightly less than the amount spent by the highest spending winning candidate across the UK, Conservative Lucy Frazer (£15,927), and more than the figure spent by PM Boris Johnson on his reelection as an MP (£11,636).

The increase reflects Conservative concerns about holding the Vale of Glamorgan after Cairns was forced to resign as Wales Secretary over his knowledge about the role of a former aide in the collapse of a rape trial.

The majority of Cairns’ spending – £11,300 – was on unsolicited material for voters like leaflets.

As Nation.Cymru reported last November, some £5,000 of his campaign fund came from an energy company whose co-director, Alexander Temerko, was once head of the Russian state arms company.

The Vale of Glamorgan Conservative association also received £13,261 from Conservative HQ which was spent almost entirely on canvassing voters.

Labour too threw significant resources at the seat. Their candidate, Belinda Loveluck-Edwards, was the third highest spending candidate in Wales with an outlay of £13,767 – almost double the spend of Labour’s candidate in 2017.

In the end, Cairns won with an increased majority despite Plaid Cymru and the Liberal Democrats standing aside in a bid to help Labour win the seat.

That made Loveluck-Edwards the highest spending losing candidate, ahead of the Lib Democrats’ Mark Williams in Ceredigion (£13,464) and Plaid Cymru’s Aled ap Dafydd in Ynys Mon (£13,152).

Labour’s Ruth Jones was the second-highest spending candidate in Wales after putting £13,849 into her campaign to keep the Newport West seat she first won in a by-election just months earlier.

Jones was the top spender on unsolicited materials for voters (£11,963), while Wales Secretary Simon Hart was the top spender on advertising (£6,294) and Conservative MP for Delyn Rob Roberts spent the most on agents and staff  (£3,134) during the campaign.



The lowest spending candidate to be elected was Labour’s Chris Evans in Islwyn (£3,319), followed by Christina Rees in Neath (£3,870) and David TC Davies in Momouth (£6,257).

Both Evans and Rees were among the top ten lowest spending candidates across the UK.

Overall, Labour candidates spent more than those of other parties in Wales at £375,313 – an average of £9,382 per candidate.

That compares to £276,483 by Conservative candidates (£6,912 average) and £155,525 by Plaid Cymru candidates (£4,320 average).

With spending of £146,576, the Brexit party’s 32 candidates far outspent the same number of Liberal Democrats (£85,919).

Eighteen candidates from other parties and independents spent £23,182, more than double the £10,028 spending by the same number of Green candidates.

Candidate spending is separate to party spending. Nation.Cymru has already revealed that the Conservative party spent five times more than Plaid Cymru in Wales at the general election.

However, the Conservatives spent just £16,692 with Welsh businesses compared to £112,000 by Plaid Cymru.

Party spending figures for Labour, the Liberal Democrats and the Brexit party have not yet been released.

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